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National Campaign

International staff survey

UCU is the largest post-16 education trade union in the world and we are committed to representing our international workforce and fighting for their interests in uncertain times.

Please help us to support international staff by completing our survey of non-UK education workers and sharing it with colleagues.

Most recently, UCU’s campaigning on behalf of international staff has focused on developing UCU’s immigration employment advice service for both EEA and non-EEA nationals which now includes support for member’s families. UCU’s on-going ‘UK universities and colleges are international’ campaign also provides resources and guidance for your local UCU branch.

The UCU post-Brexit charter, produced in December 2016, sets out eight key policy priorities, and UCU’s general election manifesto also called for further protections. The UCU submission to the ‘impact of exiting the European Union on higher education’ inquiry was prominently cited in the final report.

The union does much to represent international staff but we need to do more. Please help us to better support members and future members by completing and sharing our survey of non-UK education workers.

Many thanks, Sally Hunt

UCU general secretary

p.s. – Office for Students: The Department of Education is recruiting for board members for the newly established Office for Students. Members may wish to consider this opportunity to contribute at a senior level to post-16 education. The union does not have any formal role in this process but we recognise that members may be interested in the role.

National Senior Management survey for UK University staff

The National Senior Management Survey (SMS) is an anonymous survey for university staff around the UK to complete about the practices of their senior management team. The survey is a form of audit that seeks to move the gaze from the narrow metrics of staff performance to the senior management teams who set the conditions through which staff performance becomes possible. The results will be disseminated as widely as possible and a league table of findings will be produced. In so doing it seeks to ask questions of the current trajectory of higher education in the UK and to broaden debate about what universities should and could be for our students.

You can complete the survey here:  https://smsproject.wordpress.com/

Preliminary findings were reported in the THE recently: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/overpaid-and-overbearing-uk-university-staff-management

UCU Elections – PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE

You should by now have received papers for the current UCU elections for the post of General Secretary and members of the National Executive Committee.   Your local UCU executive committee think it is important that you vote in these elections.  UCU is active on your behalf right through the year not only in representing individual members with problems of one sort or another, but also in the formulation of the policy of the university in its role as an employer. So we are a participatory organisation, not a contracting organisation acting on your behalf for a fee. Part of that participation will be in voting in UCU elections, for posts which contribute to the setting of policy at a national level.

We have had a number of enquiries at Union House from members as to how to vote in these elections. There is a long list of candidates and it is always difficult to know which candidates to support.

1) Southampton UCU President, Dr Denis Nicole, is a candidate as Southern HE representative on the National Executive Committee, and is the only Southern HE candidate supported by resolution of a quorate branch general meeting (rather than the signatures of ten UCU members). He is fully supported by the branch as a result. For those who don’t know him personally, Denis is a Reader in Computer Science with a special interest in cybersecurity. Denis has worked hard as local president over the last year, and before that as vice-president. He will continue to represent us all at NEC if elected, and will put members first before partisan politics. (Indeed, those of you know Denis will know that it would be impossible to bind him!)

2) The post of General Secretary is up for election, as are other Officer posts and Trustees. Whereas members of the National Executive are unpaid lay members, the General Secretary is the full-time leader and an employee of UCU.  The current General Secretary is Sally Hunt; she is a candidate for re-election, and has reiterated her Independent status. The other candidate is Jo McNeill of the University of Liverpool. Whilst a committed Trade Unionist, and known personally to some of the Committee, Jo is endorsed by “UCU Left”.  UCU Left has been described as a Union within a Union and had its formation within the Socialist Worker Party. UCU Left candidates by association are not independent candidates.  Most of your Executive Committee will be supporting the re-election of Sally Hunt, some very strongly so.

3) Given that independent polls suggest that university lecturers are in general somewhat centrist in outlook (if strongly anti-Brexit), it may be somewhat of a surprise to see two diametrically opposed slates of candidates, or the political affiliations associated with them. (Apparently, nobody in UCU is “right”, unless they be a “right idiot”). The consequence of “UCU Left” success in NEC and Officer Elections will be a UCU that will not be independent. It will still serve its members, but will also be steered by a political agenda and objectives tied to Socialist Worker Party aims. The consequence of Independent, or Independent Broad Left candidates in NEC, Officer or Trustee roles will be a union that will serve its members, without one political agenda dictating the course and objectives of that service.

All candidates are required to make clear their political affiliations, so read their statements and make an informed choice.

Above all participate, it’s your Union so use your vote. The ballot runs until 12pm on 1 March.

If you have not received a ballot paper, please contact Kay Metcalfe (kmetcalfe@ucu.org.uk.) at UCU HQ.

A link to the website containing the election statements is here. https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/7228/UCU-elections-2017

Southampton UCU Committee

 

Successful strike action at Southampton

On Wednesday and Thursday this week we had a strike and a picket line at the Highfield and Avenue campuses. We are very grateful for the members who showed up to support this current set of issues we are disputing. We are also very grateful for the members of the public, crucial to support, who came and asked questions and took pamphlets.

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The picket lines are not only a great way to show support for number of issues that you might find important, they also allow for greater sense of communication and community within the union that is crucial to its continued ability to help its members. In truth, the idea of the union is based on strength in numbers and even if some people have different opinions and ideas, they are more than welcome to come and share them among the union and that only makes it stronger.  We chatted to many people – students, staff and the public – who in the main were supportive of the action.  It is a shame that a very small minority of non-union colleagues were not quite so polite in their engagement with us.

Support for the action was mirrored across the country – check out some of the action here.

We thought you’d be interested to learn why members at Southampton support the strike:

“After 10 years of being on casualised contracts, I’ve had enough”

“I believe that collective action is the best way to protect all of our working conditions”

“To make sure pay is in line with inflation”

“To explore in closer detail whether the national gender pay gap is reflected in this university”

“To end the complete disparity in pay between the workforce and the senior executives”

You can continue to show your support for the industrial action by working to contract.  As staff at the University at L4+ have no set hours we are asking that you work no more than 37 hours a week – check out our FAQs  from para 21.

We hope that our action will force the employers to return to the negotiating table.  If not, UCU will begin preparations for strike action on 18 August, the day when A Level results are released in England, as well as a setting and marking boycott to commence at an agreed point during the autumn term.

Many thanks again for all your support.

 

Strike Action – 25 and 26 May

Strike action commences 25 May and takes the form of a two day strike (25 and 26 May) with working to contract commencing 25 May.  We would ask all members to support the action in the following ways:

 Withdraw your labour for 25 and 26 May

Attend the picket line on Wednesday 25 May at Highfield campus – meet at the UCU office from 7.45am.  You are welcome to join the picket later if necessary.

Attend the picket line on Thursday 26 May at Avenue campus – meet at the entrance to the car park from 7.45am.  Join later if necessary.

Set your email to Out of Office with the following message:

“I’m sorry but I am currently unable to respond to emails as I am partaking in strike action.  Please contact me again after 26 May”

Inform your students of the action and the reasons behind it by passing on this leaflet

Join the rally of UCU members at 1pm at Guildhall Square, Southampton on Wednesday 25 May.

 A reminder that you do not have to inform management in advance that you will be taking strike action.  We are also asking members to work to contract from 25 May.  As staff at L4+ at University of Southampton have no set hours, we are asking that you work no more than 37 hours/week.  Details of Working to Contract and other FAQs can be found on the UCU website.  

Many thanks for your support. 

 

Important local update – Changes to Ordinances and Pay Claim 2016

Changes to Ordinances

The University is proposing to streamline our ordinances and policies in a number of key areas for staff: discipline and grievance, capability, redundancy & redeployment, and incapacity on health grounds. When conducted properly, our present arrangements give substantially better protection to colleagues than the minimum required by UK law; such protection is essential to ensure that academic freedom and freedom of speech remain genuine features of our day-to-day work. The plan is to “update” the rules to make the University more “agile” and to align them with standard practice in other businesses.

Unfortunately, when these changes have been made at other Universities—Reading is a recent example—they have not improved collegiality. The revised rules have made it easier for managers to change procedures in individual cases, to hasten redundancy processes, and generally facilitate the rapid removal of unwanted colleagues. A University is not a typical business; its Royal Charter is a manifestation of its role in providing a public good, including a safe haven for unpopular research and contentious ideas. We should not tinker lightly with the rules that protect us. Our employer is currently selecting a firm of solicitors to help them rewrite these rules; please help UCU engage with this issue and obtain the best possible outcome for staff and for the University’s mission.

Pay Claim 2016

Our employers have offered us a pay rise of 1.1%. For most of us, this almost exactly matches the loss in take-home pay from recent changes to USS pension and national insurance contributions. We would see no cash increase in our pockets. UCU calculates that our real-terms pay has declined 14.5% over the last seven years, while senior manager (e.g VC) pay has risen sharply; we need to start to restore our loss with a substantial pay settlement.

The dispute is not just about pay; we are also seeking to turn back the rise in casual “zero hours” contracts and to reduce the gender pay gap whereby female academics are still paid less than men: a pay gap the employers have refused to address nationally. Locally, we have been making real progress with the University in developing new “fractional” contracts to replace “zero-hours”; there has also been some progress in improving the proportion of women who are promoted. But there is much still to do. And the basic pay decline must be resolved nationally.

Our members voted for strike action in the recent ballot, and the Union has called a two-day strike on 25th and 26th May. Please join us and help make the action effective.  Contact Amanda at the UCU office for further details about picket lines, etc (ucu@soton.ac.uk).  You can find further information here:  

Denis Nicole

Branch President

 

 

Southampton UCU Extraordinary General Meeting 1pm 19 May 65/1175

Members are invited to a meeting to discuss the upcoming strike action on 25 and 26 May. We shall be joined by Steve Sangwine, UCU Higher Education Committee member, who will update members on the campaign and the plans for working to contract.
Please do come along and join the discussion.

Higher education committee (HEC) agrees programme of action


The higher education committee (HEC) has now agreed the following programme of action aimed at improving the offer from 1.1%:

  • A two day national strike Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May.
  • An instruction to members to work to contract with effect from 25/05/2016. Full guidance will be issued this week on what you should and should not do.

The HEC has also agreed to make preparations for further action aimed at student admissions and at the setting and marking of students’ work should the employers not improve their offer.

Finally, outside the action,  the union will also be appealing to all members to resign, giving due notice, from currently held external examiner positions and not to take up new ones until the  dispute is settled.

Higher education (HE) ballot: your pay is shrinking, please vote today


 Higher education members are being balloted on the 2016 pay offer and you should by now have received your ballot paper in the post.

The ballot closes on 4 May. Please don’t leave it to others to speak for you – cast your vote now.

TUC heartunions campaign – Big Workplace Meeting

Big Workplace Meeting today showing solidarity amongst the University of Southampton’s trade unions – UCU‬, UNISON and Unite – in support of the TUC’s ‪#‎heartunions‬ campaign. Thanks to all those who came along and joined in the discussion.

There’s still time to sign the petition against the TU Bill:  https://campaign.goingtowork.org.uk/petitions/david-cameron-don-t-threaten-the-right-to-strike

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